DIY couple creates stunning outdoor kitchen for just £1,500

A couple has shared how they turned to DIY to take their minds off a shock cancer diagnosis – and built a swish outdoor kitchen for just £1,500.

Shaz and Martin Cooper, both 43 and from West Sussex, met at university when Shaz relocated to the UK from Malaysia.

The couple has always loved DIY, redoing their kitchen in 2017 – but when Shaz was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, the pair decided to really get stuck in.

‘We started when we bought this house six years ago but we have been doing it bit by bit,’ says Shaz.

‘Then in 2019, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so I underwent treatments and was off work for a year.

‘When I got diagnosed, I was confused, sad, angry and mostly scared of what the future holds. I am so lucky to have an amazing husband along with family and friends that supported me throughout the treatment.

‘To be honest, during the treatment I thought I couldn’t get through it – it was the most difficult and challenging journey of my life – but there were a few others who went through worse than me and that really grounded me.

‘I felt so grateful and relieved after the treatment.’

To keep Shaz’s mind off her illness and the grueling treatment, the couple started planning a house makeover for when she was feeling better.

‘It really helped me divert my mind to something to look forward to after treatment,’ she explains.

The idea of creating an outdoor kitchen came from Martin’s love of cooking – and a desire to keep the indoors tidy.

‘During my treatment, Martin cooked a lot, and some of his specialities are BBQ and pizzas,’ says Shaz.

‘We really love to have a space outdoors where we can cook so no mess is made in our main kitchen.

‘We also love entertaining friends and family and since the pandemic hit right after my cancer treatments, we decided that an outdoor kitchen was a perfect addition to the house.’

The couple says that between spring to autumn, they use their new outdoor kitchen almost every weekend.

‘We live on pizzas and BBQ during these months, and during winter since the kitchen area is covered it becomes our storage area for garden furniture,’ says Shaz.

The kitchen is made up of a small sink, a bbq space, a portable pizza oven, and plenty of workspace and storage.

It cost the couple £1,500 to create, and took around three months of weekends to complete – but Shaz says that the pair has since gone on to take on even more DIY since.

‘We actually felt a bit sad after we finished it because we really enjoyed the process, something we find very therapeutic,’ says Shaz.

‘But overall, we were really pleased with the result and were looking forward to no more flour mess in the kitchen every time Martin makes his pizza.

‘Our garden is not big so we are proud that we can still achieve this even with limited space.

‘Other than the outdoor kitchen, we have turned our en suite bathroom and family bathroom into three rooms – small en suite, bathroom and home office – all with Martin’s clever DIY skills and my design.

‘I’ve learned how to do tiling, and Martin gained new plumbing and flooring skills. The next projects on our list are our utility room and our driveway.’

The couple decided to start sharing their DIY projects online to keep track of their progress.

‘At the beginning, it was just for us to document our renovation journey,’ adds Shaz. ‘We never thought anyone would be interested in what we do and follow our journey. Everyone has been very kind and supportive.

‘Our advice to people wanting to do their own DIY is don’t be afraid to try because practice makes perfect, play with colours and be true to your style.

‘If you are just starting on DIY, start small and go from there. Know your limits too.’

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